EXPLAINER: Why do leap years happen every four years?

It all has to do with Earth’s non-circular orbit around the sun

Earth's non-circular orbit is why we do Leap Years every four years.

ROANOKE, Va. – It’s that time again! We look at the calendar, expecting 28 days in February and *BAM*, that extra day 29th shows up.

Leap Day is a necessary part of keeping up with the artificial calendar we’ve created. Let’s explain.

It takes Earth 365.24 days to make a complete orbit around the sun. Earth’s orbit is elliptical - not a perfect circle - and it orbits at an angle of roughly 23.5° relative to that big orange fiery ball.

Our calendars, however, assume that a year is exactly 365 days. In order to correct for the imbalance that our time construct has created, we simply add a day every four years.

Earth's non-circular orbit is why we do Leap Years every four years.

2024 is a leap year. 2028 will be the next, and so on and so forth.


About the Author

Meteorologist Chris Michaels is an American Meteorological Society (AMS) Certified Broadcaster, forecasting weather conditions in southwest Virginia on WSLS 10 News from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. weekdays on Virginia Today.

Recommended Videos